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Thursday, September 04, 2014

D vs. R: The yada yada edition....

Yes, I'm still working on that "origins of ISIS" piece. I hope to have something up today or tomorrow. The topic is huge -- in fact, it demands a whole book. In the meantime...

Why did Chad scoot? It's the great political guessing game of the day. Why did Kansas Democrat Chad Taylor drop out of the race for the Senate? The Wichita Eagle has the fullest story.

One's first thought goes to the idea of a skeletonized closet. However, it seems more likely that Taylor has simply done the honorable -- and pragmatic -- thing. Republican incumbent Pat Roberts was set to face two challengers: Democrat Chad Taylor and independent Greg Orman, a former Democrat. Orman has money, social media headwind, and some surprisingly good numbers:
Orman would lead Roberts 43 percent to 33 percent in a head-to-head race, according to an August poll from Public Policy Polling.

Another poll from SurveyUSA showed Orman was attracting voters from across the political spectrum.
On the national level, the Dems desperately needed to see an upset somewhere on the board. I therefore suspect that Dem bigwigs put pressure on Taylor to drop out. Presumably, some sort of consolation prize was offered.

Orman says that he stands for financial responsibility and lowering government debt and yada yada yada. Any political candidate in Kansas is more or less required to recite those lines. But -- and this is key -- Orman also insists that he will never go along with the now-standard Republican tactic of threatening to shut down the government every time the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
“But with that said, if I’m faced with the choice between defaulting on our debt and keeping our government open, I choose sanity.

“I’m a pro-sanity candidate,” he added.
He's got my vote. Or he would have, if I hailed from Dorothy's state.

Is Elizabeth Warren running? Someone sent me a link to an article (which I'm too lazy to look up at the moment) which quotes Warren singing the praises of Israel while offering the usual "right to defend itself" yada yada. She's no good, sayeth my correspondent.

I interpreted her words another way: Looks like she's thinking of higher office.

And now we have this:
"ISIS is growing in strength. It has money, it has organization, it has the capacity to inflict real damage. So when we think about a response we have to think about how to destroy that," Warren told Yahoo's Katie Couric.

Warren agreed that "time is of the essence."

"We need to be working now, full-speed ahead, with other countries, to destroy ISIS. That should be our No. 1 priority," she said in a wide-ranging interview promoting her latest book, A Fighting Chance.
Note the studious silence about Saudi funding of ISIS. Note the book to promote. She's starting to sound like a candidate, eh wot?

Some of you may be thinking: But what good is her candidacy if all she has to offer is the same-old yada yada? First: Warren has taken some very progressive stances when it comes to the financial industry. Second: The hard fact is that you can't get anywhere near the nomination unless you say certain things and refrain from saying certain other things. If you withhold your vote until an uncompromised presidential candidate comes along, you'll be waiting your whole life. Reality check: There's an Israel-firster named Saban who tosses a lot of money at the Dems, and an Israel-firster named Adelson who tosses a ton of loot at the Rs. I don't think any politician can stand against that kind of cash tsunami.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings us to...

A libertarian confesses. Dustin Petzold's piece is amusing and very informative, although Petzold himself seems to be the kind of fellow with whom I would not want to share the proverbial beer. His primary target is the cult of Ron Paul. He calls Paul's more zealous supporters Discipauls, although less charitable folk use the term Paultards.

These passages struck me as quite revealing:
I made my way through a revolving door of internships on Capitol Hill and at nonprofits. It was in a congressional office that I became acutely aware of a group of people I call “Discipauls,” and learned just how troublesome they could be. I want to be clear that a mere Ron Paul supporter is often completely different from a Discipaul. Plenty of people are sympathetic to the anti-establishment former congressman, and with good reason, but few of them reach the Discipauls’ level of kookery. The Discipauls could not go a day without bringing their faxes and phone calls to the interns’ attention. Their messages of “Hey, vote for this bill because Ron Paul supports it!” or “All of the presidential candidates not named Ron Paul are guilty of treason!” were relentless.

Sometimes, on rare days when internship-related drudgery hadn’t caused me to glaze over, I would challenge and debate the Discipauls (this was explicitly not to be part of my job description – oops). There was a consistent lack of constitutional literacy and current events knowledge emanating from their end of the phone line. One lady called me, practically out of breath over the fact that Obamacare would “mandate microchip implantation for all citizens.
One would think that the craziest Discipauls would be limited to the type of people who had nothing better to do but call their representative on weekday afternoons, but a surprising number of these people showed up in nonprofit offices and at professional networking events.
The lesson I glean from these words differs from that which Petzold probably intends.

The fact that so many Paultards are willing to put that kind of pressure on our congress-critters informs us that those who dwell with Paul's sector of far-right Crazyland have not given up on the system. They are willing to play the game. They think that they can win the game.

Compare that "can do" attitude to the pseudo-hip cynicism expressed with distressing regularity on liberal blogs. I have no doubt that the faux-hipster battalions will sound that theme in the comments section appended to this very post:

"Both parties are corrupt. The system is hopeless. Don't even try. Don't support anyone who isn't 100 percent pure. No donations. Stay home on election day. Voting only encourages them."

Do many of these remarks originate with Republican ratfuckers and astroturfers? C'mon. Grow up. Of course they do.

I mention all of this because...

The Republicans are favored to take the Senate.
Most people think that their advantage is slight, but I'm not so sure...
Whether the Democrats can keep the game close to the end, or whether the Republicans will build an even larger advantage, turns on one big question about the national environment: Is 2014 a fairly neutral year in which Republicans hold an edge because races are mainly being fought in Republican-held states, or is it also a bad year for Democrats, who might face a “wave” election like the ones that brought Democrats to power in 2006 and swept them away in 2010? The answer hinges in part on whether the G.O.P.'s unpopularity is enough to mitigate the expected backlash against President Obama.
This year, the two metrics are not so interchangeable. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s — around 42 percent, according to the Huffington Post’s Pollster tracker. That’s lower than at this time in 2010, so it’s easy to see why so many have taken the president’s ratings as a sign of an impending catastrophe for Democrats.

The generic ballot, on the other hand, puts the Democrats ahead by about 2 points among registered voters. That’s nothing like 2010, when the Republicans had opened a 3-point lead on the generic ballot by early September after making steady gains over the summer.
This assessment is, I think, a bit too optimistic. Nevertheless, I am rooting for the Dems to win. Why? First and foremost is the matter discussed above: Those infuriating debt ceiling games that the Republicans have played and will continue to play. In this area, nearly all Dems -- including Obama -- have behaved rationally. The Rs, by contrast, have been totally fucking nuts.

I have a middle digit extended to all who sneer and snarl: "Bah! Those debt ceiling confrontations are completely unimportant. It's all nothing but theater." Are you people insane?

I have another middle digit extended to those who want the whole political and financial system to collapse. These cheerleaders for chaos think that the Day of Ragnarok will surely be followed by Libertarian Paradise. Or by Socialist Paradise. Every fool has an individualized version of Fool's Paradise.

If I had a third hand, I would extend another middle digit to those who are now dying to send me their INEVITABLE and INCREDIBLY PREDICTABLE yada yadas abut why it is unacceptable to favor one party over the other. Look, we already know the drill:

Both parties are the same and you're an idiot if you donate one dime to the Dems and you should just stay home on election day. In fact, you should just spend the rest of your life doing nothing but sitting in your robe while making snarky remarks on the internet, because THAT's incredibly useful. But for god's sake, never ever ever say one kind word about any Dem anywhere. Because Obama because Israel because Ukraine because Syria because yada yada.

I advise you not to bother typing out all of that yada yada, since we all know what you are going to say before you say it. But you're going to say it anyways, aren't you? Hey, I understand. Times are tough, and a ratfucker's gotta eat. So yada your yadas and cash your check.

PS. Hey ratfuckers: Can you come up with a truly new variant of an ancient line -- "The lesser of two evils is still evil"? C'mon. Don't just regurgitate the familiar. Put some thought into it. If your phrasing is clever, I'm less likely to give you a spanking.
What is a "networking event"? A wireless router crash?
"I don't think any politician can stand against that kind of cash tsunami." This is very true. But what is to be done about it? Give your support to the one you think is less evil among them, again? To invite over the one who you think will screw you less harshly? Or start working toward creating the conditions for a society in which that tsunami does not exist?
moshe, you didn't read through to the end, did you?
The ISIS post sounds interesting. I was just thinking about this last night. Wasn't it about a year ago that the political leadership tried to ram through an invasion into Syria to side with the 'extremists' that were being slaughtered by the Syrian Gov't. Now, the year later, we are about to go bomb/terrorize/invade/destroy (choose your own worldview accordingly) a group of extremists that are partly out of Syria? This time, siding with the Iraqi Gov't.

Once I saw that the Islamic extremists had taken over the bank and oil money, I realized it was only a matter of time before the US was going in to take back the money/oil/land. The route of how that happened was pretty creative.
I did, but since I didn't even know what a 'ratfucker' was supposed to mean...

Nota bene: I do not believe that 'there is no difference' between Republicans and Democrats, there clearly is. A lot of people will have their individual lives made much, much worse if the Republicans win, there's not question in my mind about that. My question is more related to the bigger picture, to what the United States represents as a culture and where your 'great American experiment' has gone. Do you really think that your country will actually go in the right direction if a Democratic president is elected in 2016? If not, why do you think it is a good idea to invest your energy in support of that prospect, instead of figuring out how to become again a country to be proud of? Perhaps I'm missing something - have you already laid out your case, somewhere, for going D even against the fact that Democratic administrations have been gently and steadily making their part in guiding your country into economic and societal ruin for the last 40 years?

I have my own opinion about all this, but I'm asking you because I want to know your opinion, not ratfuckery intended.

Why do you think that you can change bad behavior by rewarding it? People (even politicians and professional political consultants) respond to incentives - if you reward bad behavior, you reinforce it. We've known that since Pavlov. As for me, I'm donating to candidates who've taken the pledge:

and nobody else.
Prop, has not been all bad behavior. Standing against government shutdowns, raising the debt limit when necessary, voting for unemployment benefits, voting for food stamps, making sure that Social Security remains sounds, and, yes, voting for the ACA...all good behavior.

I know what you're about to say: "But Obaaaaaaaamaaaaa...." I'm not fucking TALKING about Obama right now, am I?

Second, I thought your phrasing was not as original as it could have been.

My suggestion: Take one of the standard cliches and place the words out of order. That way, it becomes a game. We have to rearrange the words in order to figure out which cliche you're using.


"Encourages vote it don't only them."

See how it works? Your turn.

I'll often times resort to the "both parties are two sides of the same coin" statement when I just don't feel like getting into it with some knuckle-dragging, right-wing mouth-breather.

I know there is a difference, but sometimes I do wonder if the upper echelons of both parties are occupied by viceroys of the ruling elite, i.e. nobody will ever become Senate majority leader or Speaker of the House unless they can be depended upon to toe the establishment line.

Within the rank and file of Congress we'll see a difference, but the policy differences between the R's and the D's at the executive level often seem superficial, to say the least.

EW taking the stand on the murders in israel.
I do vote, for all the good it does. Probably 90% of the time I have voted for Democrats. Where has this gotten me? Okay, I admit that if Mitt Romney or (God forbid) McCain had become President, things would be far worse than they are now. I know this. I just keep wondering how we can ever have actual Liberals, doing Liberal things (THAT is key) in congress or the White House (aside from one or two token liberals in congress, of course). I think a large part of the problem is that most liberals are not foaming at the mouth about their principles. They don't have the proper amount of crazy to take over the Democratic party. You've mentioned before how the tea partiers took over the Republican party.....but do we really want that sort of approach for the Democratic party? I do find similarities between both parties, but they all come down to for campaigns, money for helping benefactors, money after they get out of office. The trick will be to get that money out of politics and government, and there are really only a few politicians (mostly on the left) who are in any position to do anything about it, and they have to convince the already compromised majority of other politicians to go along with their plans. I just don't see how that is possible when money and the media basically determines who can have a chance in hell of getting elected and who can't. I agree with you though, that we aren't ever going to get a perfect candidate who will do everything they promise and make all of our dreams come true. I think everyone knows that anyway though.
Whether there are superficial differences (they are minimal and inconsequential) between the parties, is irrelevant at this point, because both of the parties move steadily to the right in tandem. Voting for the lesser evil simply reinforces this rightward joint movement.

I would encourage not voting for the Democrats, simply to teach them accountability. UNLESS they actually start doing liberal things, they should not see political office. Yes, in the meantime, the republicans will get a free reign.

But unless democrats are taught that they will not be given power unless they start actually acting in line with popular preferences - which are so far to the left of current policy that it is ridiculous - I would rather have the honest assholes fucking me over, rather than pretend progressives fucking me over.
"Minimal and inconsequential"? Spoken like a true ratfucker!

You DO realize that the people who are paying you to spew this crap want to make sure that you never get a social security check, right?

At any rate, I spoke earlier about a family member whose health insurance bill is now a third of what it was, thanks to the ACA. That may be inconsequential to YOU, but not to him.
For your isis story, this guy is bat-$$$$-crazy.
I put the words in different order and they ended up meaning exactly the same thing. That's one of the virtues of speaking Latin, of course.
Republicans: endless wars, continued theft

Democrats: endless wars, continued theft, free birth control

Sign me up, yo!

Apparently taking a principled position on anything is out of the question. Enjoy your scraps, but remember, doing so also means abdicating the right to protest - you voted for this shit
Anon: I was going to give you points for original phrasing until you included that final bit about abdicating the right to protest. Heard it before.

Care to try again? This time, try to be TOTALLY original. Feel free to use acrostics or Gollum-type riddles or Morse code...
Thank you for your continued cooperation. Your name will remain on the "Do not kill" list until the next review of your file on 1 Jan 2016.

The Prez.
YES! YES! Now THAT was what I was looking for!

Thank you, "Prez." You've renewed my faith in blogging.
No, I’m not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.

- Howard Zinn, 2008. RIP.
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